Meals out can eat up a big part of your holiday budget – so the booming global street food scene has been a godsend for cash-strapped travellers. We’ve picked out five great destinations where you can eat really well at local food trucks and market stalls and make major savings in the process.
Portland’s street food scene is the stuff of legends. There are more than 600 food trucks and stands around the city, many of them gathered together in ‘pods’ and serving up everything from Norwegian flatbreads to Mauritian curries. It’s all totally in keeping with Portland’s reputation as hipster central – if you like your craft beers, micro roasteries, urban wineries and vegan tattoos, you may never want to leave. Oregon’s largest city is also a magnet for bibliophiles, thanks to the presence of Powell’s City of Books, a massive new and used bookstore that takes up an entire block. If you’re partial to a quirky attraction, Portland delivers on that front, too, with museums dedicated to puppets, hats, vacuum cleaners and kayaks, and The Freakybuttrue Peculiarium, part store, part café, part collection of sci-fi-themed exhibits. You can see why ‘Keep Portland weird’ is the unofficial city motto.
Stay: The Hoxton Portland
The Hoxton Portland opened towards the end of last year in a 1906 building in Chinatown. There’s a mid-century look to the décor and plenty of places for guests and locals to hang out, including a rooftop taqueria, basement bar and ground-floor coffee bar. Rooms from around £92 a night.
Think Nice and you automatically think sun, sea and old-school glamour, all of which are definitely present and correct. They’re not the only reasons to head to this part of the French Riviera, though. The street food, too, is a cut above your average seaside resort, with delicious local specialities including socca (a thin chickpea pancake that goes down nicely with a glass of rosé), pan bagnat (essentially a salad niçoise in a bun) and pissaladière (the local take on pizza, topped with caramelised onions, anchovies and black olives). You can also feed your mind as well as your body – the city is home to some excellent museums such as the Musée Matisse and Musée National Marc Chagall, each dedicated to the work of its namesake artist, and MAMAC (Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain), where the collection of 1,300-odd artworks includes pieces from the likes of Yves Klein, Niki de Saint Phalle and Andy Warhol.
Stay: The Jay
Dotted around town are several hotels from the HappyCulture collection, all boutique properties with their own distinctive look and reasonable rates. Among them is The Jay, around 10 minutes from the station and five from the beach, with Art Deco furnishings and rooms from around £68 a night.
It’s not that long ago that most travellers viewed Singapore as a bland stopover en route to somewhere more interesting. How things have changed: these days the combination of dramatic new skyline, fascinating history and top attractions have made it well and truly a destination in its own right. In between sightseeing, soak up the city’s fabulous street food at one of the hawker centres. Not only are their stalls famously a good place to eat on the cheap, you’ll also find a couple of them have Michelin stars, too: Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle in the Chinatown Food Complex and Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle at the Tai Hwa Eating House on Crawford Lane. You’ll have to queue (and queue and queue) but just grit your teeth and remember that waiting at the end is a bowl of Michelin-starred food for just a few quid.
Stay: Hotel Mi
Wherever you wander in the Mexican capital, you’ll never be too far from a vendor selling tacos al pastor – little taco shells filled with thinly sliced spit-roasted pork and caramelised pineapple – along with many other stalls selling tamales, tortas, tostadas, tlacoyas and even some dishes that don’t begin with a ‘t’. They’re all part of a food scene that is both tasty and good value, making Mexico City a great destination for travellers on a tight budget. Some of the key museums help save you money too: the Museo de Arte Moderno and Palacio de Bellas Artes waive their entrance fees on Sundays, while the Museo Soumaya and Palacio Nacional (home to Diego Rivera murals) are always free. Elsewhere, a trip to Museo Frida Kahlo, where the artist was born and died, has to be on the cards, along with a cruise through the Unesco World Heritage-listed canals of Xochimilco, last remnants of an Aztec waterway system.
Stay: Room Mate Valentina
Everything about Room Mate Valentina says young and lively, from the playful, colourful decoration and digital music system to the location just off Paseo de la Reforma in the Zona Rosa, a party part of town. The cheapest rooms are the Executive Rooms, from around £59 a night.
Australia’s buzzy food scene isn’t confined to Sydney and Melbourne. Up on the Queensland coast, Brisbane has undergone a bit of a foodie renaissance in the past few years, with a growing number of markets popping up to feed the demand for cheap and tasty street food. Leading the pack is Eat Street Northshore, a collection of brightly painted shipping containers converted into food stalls, where more than 70 vendors serve up everything from Chinese dumplings to Swedish sweets. Meanwhile, Boundary Street Markets recently launched a bang-on-trend vegan version on the second and fourth Sundays of each month. You’ll have plenty of chances to work off all the food – the city is full of more active entertainments, too, from kayaking down the Brisbane River and climbing the Story Bridge to abseiling down the cliffs at Kangaroo Point or cycling along the waterfront on the Bicentennial Bikeway.
Stay: TRYP Fortitude Valley
From street food to street art… TRYP Fortitude Valley is all about contemporary urban design and features work by internationally famous Aussie street artists such as Fintan Magee, Numskull, Rone and Beastman. Rooms, all adorned with artworks, start from around £58 a night.
Ready to find your own foodie destination?
All flight and prices mentioned in this article are estimates of the cheapest prices based on Skyscanner’s flight search tools. These are subject to change and were correct at time of writing on 11 February 2019.